Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grammar Guide
Nauseate Versus Nauseous

In common conversation, people are prone to hyperbole (exaggeration) and sometimes say that something “makes me nauseous.” We all understand that what the person means to imply is that something makes him sick. What he’s actually saying is something is making him turn into a repulsive piece of refuse that makes other people puke. Check it:

News anchor Tim Russert rolled his eyes in an unveiled attempt at condescension and said, “Britney Spears with her shaved head makes me nauseous the more I think about her.”

How true. The right way for Timmy to phrase the above is to say, “…Britney Spears with her shaved head nauseates me.”

Here’s why. Nausea is a noun. It’s the actual stomach “disturbance,” if you know what I mean. Nauseate is the verb. It means “to make something sick; to make someone feel like being ill.” In other words, if you nauseate someone, you make them feel nausea (the noun). (Is this post distressing to anyone else yet?) Here’s the self-serving example from Choices Meant for Gods:

Godric nauseated Nigel with constant belittling and irritation.

Godric is the nauseous (adjective) agent in the example above. We wouldn’t say he made Nigel “nauseous” because that would imply that he projected his negative behavior onto his son. (And, when you read Choices Meant for Gods, you’ll see how oh-so-wrong that idea is.)

Clear as mud? I’m not sure why I decided to regale visitors with such a sickening subject today, other than this is one of those misused words that makes a person sound not-so-well-educated, if you catch my meaning. Just remember that an object (or person or idea or smell or whutevah) can’t make you suddenly repulsive and gross—it can’t make you nauseous. An object can nauseate you instead.

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fifteen years and is the author of the new fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available from

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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